Jalebi is the ultimate sweet in the Indian confectionary delights.
Unlike most other Indian sweets, it is crispy and loaded with the syrup in its swirling tubular round, but a flat body. Made with yeasted white flour, Jalebi-making is art with quick and round hand movement when fried for its crispy texture—and then immersed in sugar syrup to get its “injection” of sweetness.
Jalebi experts say that this sweet indulgence, when prepared, must be fried in pure desi-ghee, not any vegetable hydrogenated oil.
The luscious delicacy has to be eaten by hand despite its sticky surface. Lately, a new fad has emerged, especially in Indian parties. It is the Jalebi with ice cream, a double-double dessert that goes well after the spicy-hot dishes.
Another combination is when Jalebi get immersed in a bowl or cup of boiling milk, and then immediately scooped out with a spoon. It is the favourite of my long-time friend, Harminder Magon, a celebrated master in Indian cooking and author of the bestselling book, “My Epicurean Journey.”
Jalebi-milk combo has therapeutic value also that it can work much more quickly to calm stubborn coughs than any lozenges or syrups available in a drug store. Try it, the cough will be gone, but you may get hooked to “dudd-jalebi,” as they say in Punjabi.
Jalebi finds its space in social behaviour as a pun when a cunning person is called “straight like a jalebi.” Or a charming talker is referred to as “sweet like jalebi.”
The personality of Jalebi lies in its blissful enjoyment of sweet taste that it stands out boastfully among all other Indian sweets. But its ego is challenged by Karela (bitter melon). According to my respected friend Zile Singh: “Tuut jande ne maan Jalebian de jithey Karela langh janda,” Translation: Jalebi’s self-pride gets shattered when a Karela goes over.
Jalebi does have close minor cousins called Boondi. These, in reality, are the Tim-bits of Jalebi, same texture, same taste.
Enjoy Jalebi, the queen of Indian confection, straight or with milk, anytime, including midnight all alone and guilt-free craving for something sweet.